Coe In 'Great Spot' Hosting Elmhurst In D-III Playoffs

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

Coe's Brenden Leiran celebrates the first touchdown of the day during the game against Central at Coe on Saturday, November 10, 2012. (Kyle Grillot/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Each team was given exactly 45 minutes of practice Friday at Clark Field. Even though one didn’t use all of its time, the other wasn’t allowed to take the field until its specific allotted time.

Culver Landscaping of Cedar Rapids was busy, too, painting photographer boundaries on each sideline. Media folks won’t be allowed to just show up as usual today, needing bona fide credentials.

Welcome to NCAA playoff football.

Tenth-ranked Coe hosts a Division III postseason game for the second time, with No. 17 Elmhurst the opponent at noon. It’s been a crazy week for Coach Steve Staker, who has been comparatively besieged with interview requests from radio, television, newspaper and website folks who ordinarily don’t pay him much attention.

“It’s been good,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s been better than what Coach (Kirk) Ferentz has been going through down in Iowa City lately.”

Coe (10-0) won its first outright Iowa Conference championship this season, finishing unbeaten for the first time since 1993. It was first in the league in just about every important team category, including total offense and defense and scoring offense and defense.

It’s a well-rounded team with a lot of seniors that believes it can do some damage in the playoffs. Today’s winner plays either St. Thomas (Minn.) or St. Norbert in next week’s second round.

“I think we’re in a great spot,” Coe defensive end Frank Weymiller said. “We’re relatively healthy, and we’re peaking at the right time.”

“We’re really excited for this,” wide receiver Jared Kuehner said. “We think we can get past that second game. Just keep trying to break records, I guess.”

The Kohawks first have to topple a formidable foe. Elmhurst (9-1), located in suburban Chicago, is in the D-III playoffs for the first time with an at-large bid after a co-championship in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

It was the Bluejays’ first conference title since 1980. Nine players were named to the all-CCIW team, including offensive MVP Scottie Williams.

Coe will see plenty of the 5-foot-6, 170-pound darter. He has rushed for 1,732 yards and 20 touchdowns behind an offensive line that features three first-time all-conference players.

“I don’t know that we’ve faced a team like this,” Staker said. “(Williams) is quick, speedy and shifty. He cuts back very well. He’ll be a force to reckon with. ... Obviously, how we deal with him will be a major part of this game. We think we have a good (overall) plan. We’ll see.”

Elmhurst ranked sixth in its conference in total defense, so Coe must feel it’ll be able to move the football and score points. The return of injured running back Gage Mohs and receiver Keaton Juergens will help in that endeavor.

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